Chants of hatred and disgust were tossed across police barricades between protesters and supporters of the Straight Pride Parade on Saturday which ended in 36 arrests and 4 injured officers, according to Boston police.

Tensions flared in the crowd of about 200 people which was composed mostly of counterprotesters and peppered with far left groups like Antifa. The controversial parade garnered national attention since its inception in June.

“We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,” said Jon Crowley, an Antifa member who told the Herald that he felt violence was the only way to deal with the people marching in the parade, which went from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza. “They are fascists, 100%. How else are you going to get them to shut up?”

March organizer John Hugo said, “Why is it that other people can have a pride parade and it’s considered OK, and they have about 2,000 LGBTQ events every year, but we want a few hours and they all get out and protest and give us the finger and swear at us? Give me a break.”

Hugo said the motivation behind the parade was to take a stand for free speech and demonstrate that the “oppressed majority” of straight Americans have just as much right to celebrate their sexuality as does the LGBTQ community.

“The people who demand tolerance are the most intolerant. That’s hypocrisy,” he said.

Many of the few hundred marchers said they shared that sentiment, including Dre Cron, a gay man from North Carolina who traveled to Boston this weekend to attend the march.

“I just wanted to exercise my free speech. We do gay pride a lot, if people want to have a straight pride parade, by all means have it. You love being straight? Just do it,” Cron said. “Maybe this will be a historic moment, when I can hopefully give more people on the left some options other than being leftist.”

Despite the organizers’ and marchers’ denials that the parade promoted bigotry or white supremacy, counterprotesters said that the event was inherently discriminatory and undermined the injustices that members of the LGBTQ community have experienced.

“Nobody has legal cases to try to fire people for being straight. No one has legal cases to try to prevent straight people from adopting children,” said Arlington resident Molly Eskridge. “And free speech, from the First Amendment perspective, is about being protected from government punishment for what you say. It doesn’t mean people can’t ostracize you.”

Eskridge added that the march went beyond simply celebrating heterosexuality, as marchers waved “Trump 2020” flags and signs reading “Build the wall.”

“It’s not just about straight pride. This is provocation,” she said.

Boston Pride tweeted a statement about the parade, writing in part, “It has become increasingly clear that the Straight Pride Parade is organized by a group of white supremacists and is an attempt to bait the Boston LGBTQ community, as well as racial and ethnic minority communities in Boston. It’s a trolling event, designed to get a rise out of vulnerable communities.”

Solidarity Against Hate, who calls themselves an anti-fascist group, issued a statement questioning why the permit for the parade was approved in the first place, especially on the weekend when Boston’s college students return to the city. “Is this the first impression we want said students to have of our city? We must wonder how much taxpayers’ money was spent to bring in law enforcement officials from as far away as Amesbury, as well as overtime for local police officers.” Boston police refused to divulge how many officers they had at the event.

As the marchers gathered at City Hall Plaza to host several public speakers, hundreds of counterprotesters convened on Congress Street, yelling “Nazis go home,” and “(Expletive) straight pride.”

“They have a right to do this, but I think they’re just making fools of themselves, like they think they are an endangered species or they’ve been disenfranchised somehow,” said Revere resident Kevin Doherty. “They’re like slave owners complaining that they don’t have enough rights.”

Among the speakers was Milo Yiannopoulos, a former editor for Breitbart News and well-known conservative commentator. Yiannopoulos is gay.

“I think this is a wonderful little first nudge backwards against this idea that people with average sexualities should be pushed into agreeing with things that most people don’t agree with,” Yiannopoulos said. “I will stand for freedom, I will stand for your traditional Christian family values, even if I don’t always fit them myself.”

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